In August, the chairmen of the Northern Virginia Regional and Fairfax County park authorities joined together in denouncing the Tri-County Parkway alignment on the county's Comprehensive Plan.
They said a six-lane highway through Bull Run Regional Park would be "devastating" to its natural and cultural resources and place both the area's water supply and the Occoquan Watershed in jeopardy.
And according to the project's draft environmental impact statement [DEIS], the Comprehensive Plan alignment would cost $547.8 million to build — three times as much as the other alternatives, which both travel west of the Manassas National Battlefield Park.
So far, residents of both Fairfax and Prince William counties have weighed in on the matter to VDOT Project Manager Ken Wilkinson. But now, on Monday, it'll be time for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to take a stand.
They must choose a preferred route and pass the information on to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) which will make the ultimate decision on Nov. 17. And the whole thing has local residents holding their breath.
"This highway does not make sense," said Jan Guthrie, Gate Post Estates Homeowners Association president. "At all the public hearings we went to, the majority of the people were against the Comprehensive Plan alignment because of all its negative effects, the financial cost and the effect on Bull Run Regional Park."
The roughly 10-mile Comprehensive Plan alignment through Fairfax County goes south of Route 29 in Centreville, takes a nearly 90-degree jag eastward and then turns south again to bisect Bull Run Regional Park and the residential area along Bull Run Post Office Road north.
THE THEORY behind the Tri-County Parkway is that uniting Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun counties with this road — as well as Manassas with I-66 and the Dulles area — will improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
Some Virginia Run residents believe the Comprehensive Plan alignment would help alleviate congestion on Pleasant Valley Road north of I-66 and that South Riding residents would use Pleasant Valley Road to reach I-66.
But Jim Fowler, also of Gate Post Estates, says a new north-south passage isn't what's needed — the problem is drivers traveling east-west. And, he added, "None of these alternatives do a good job at improving transportation between Manassas and the Dulles Corridor."
"The Comprehensive Plan alignment won't help the people living north of Route 29, like they think it will," said Bull Run Civic Association President Judy Heisinger. "It won't take traffic off Pleasant Valley; it'll add traffic coming from the south up Pleasant Valley to Route 50 and the Route 28 Corridor to reach Dulles Airport."
She said many people have only been focused on traffic coming from Loudoun County to I-66. "But a lot of Loudoun residents don't go to Pleasant Valley, anymore. Many are traveling to Reston, going to the Dulles Corridor or staying in Loudoun to work."
So, said Heisinger, the Comprehensive Plan alignment "won't save" Pleasant Valley Road — the traffic will still be coming, but from another direction. She believes that if the West Four alternative is chosen — one of the potential routes going west of the Battlefield Park — "it'll be far enough away that it won't impact the Pleasant Valley/Route 29 intersection."
She said the Tri-County Parkway was originally intended to be as far west of Pleasant Valley Road as possible and connect to Route 606 in the north. And using West Four, said Heisinger, "will give trucks a way to get to the new, air-freight terminal at the airport. The exit is on 606, just north of Route 50."
Meanwhile, residents wishing to express their opinions on the Tri-County Parkway and which route they believe should be chosen may e-mail Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may also be sent to Wilkinson at email@example.com.